City of Sydney unveils strategy for towering clusters

City of Sydney has unveiled a new planning strategy for the city centre, which will allow for buildings of up to 330 metres to be built in new “clusters.”

The strategy also calls for the simplification and unification of the central Sydney planning area to reabsorb The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Ultimo and Central Railway to Cleveland Street. The overall goal of the new framework is to prioritize employment growth and increase capacity for employment in central Sydney.

Sydney mayor Clover Moore Moore said responding to COVID-19 remained the council’s top priority and that implementing the new planning strategy would contribute to the city’s recovery and future livelihoods.

“The Central Sydney Planning Strategy is the most detailed planning review of the city centre in more than four decades,” she said.

“We can build tall towers in the city, we can see our skyline rise with iconic, sustainable buildings, by following deep, evidence-based work that considers the current and future needs of our city.”

The draft strategy will be on exhibition for a 10 week period, extended from the usual four weeks, due to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

The City of Sydney first unveiled the plan back in 2016, but it has been slow to progress, with the council accusing the state government of “sitting on the plan for two and a half years.”

Planning minister Rob Stokes announced the state government’s in-principle support for the strategy on 8 December 2019, stating “This strategy means we will deliver nearly three million square metres of new office space to ensure Sydney remains the commercial hub of the nation.”

In addition to the focus on increasing allowable building heights in the clusters, the plan would seek to ensure tower sites consider wind, sunlight, public views and setbacks with the new clusters positioned to protect key public spaces.

The plan would also require all towers and major developments to go through the design competition process.

“This is our blueprint for planning done well – allowing the city to grow with new skyscrapers that protect employment space, while making sure sunlight continues to shine through to treasured public spaces including Hyde Park, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Martin Place and Wynyard Park,” said Moore.

“If we want Sydney to maintain its status as a global city and economic powerhouse, it’s vital that we safeguard economic floor space whilst allowing residential development to continue in the city centre.”

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